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bird in hand

Over the last couple of days I’ve been stitching this goldfinch.

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I’ve read somewhere that people used to keep goldfinches in cages, they certainly are beautiful birds and often visit my garden, twittering away in small groups. I am not keen on caging birds, but did want to show the love I feel for these beautiful creatures. I added to the beauty of the bird by surrounding it with bullion stitch roses, one of may favourite things to embroider. I used my own hands as ‘models’, but just suggested their outline using backstitch – I didn’t want to detract from the bird with too much detail.

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Of course I’ve changed the relative scales of hands, bird and roses – that’s the joy of art – I can adjust objects in whichever way I choose!

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ceramic and felt urchins

I’ve been developing an idea that combines stoneware clay – a cold, hard surface – with softer felt fabric. At first I tried a simple design, a small thrown pot with spikes of felt.

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I enjoyed the differing textures and the piece is very tactile. I find it pleasing that an ‘aggressive’ shape – the point – is made from a soft fabric. When I looked at the finished piece it reminded me of sea urchins, and I began to explore this idea, remembering that sea urchins have 5-fold symmetry.

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Very happy with this development in the design I went ahead and made a few more, adding more texture with slip trailing, indenting and moulding the clay. I added colour using blue and green slips. I made holes in the clay to enable me to sew on the fabric. I used watercolour paint to mark out the design on the damp clay.

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The paint disappears on firing.

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I’m so pleased with the results!

Hedgerow

I’ve been working on a textile piece inspired by a hedgerow line close to where I live. At this time of year there are bare branches and the chain link fence within the hedge is clearly visible. The hardy, low-lying groundcover of grasses and some grassland plants remains, as it has all winter, but now in the early spring, some of the fresh green growth of the herbaceous plants is starting to emerge.

I began by taking some of the fresh new cow parsley leaves and pressing them into soft clay, outlining them with coloured slips. I added two lines of holes so I could sew the ceramic onto fabric. Once fired, this gave me the central ceramic panel.

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I tested out various textile backgrounds before coming up with a combination I liked…

I was particularly pleased that I found a way to depict the chain link fencing – I took a photograph of the fence, edited it to make a black and white image with as much contrast as possible, printed it and transferred the image onto calico using acrylic paint to absorb the printer ink. Other fabric pieces were spray painted and crayoned, with some gold added too.

I added some stitching to give the impression of grasses, and added some ghostly dandelion leaves in the foreground. I’m pretty pleased with the way this has turned out:

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my broadland landscape

I made this piece in a workshop with textile artist Cas Holmes. We created folding books using a range of media – fabrics, papers, found objects. Cas demonstrated some of the techniques she uses in her own work, and us workshop participants were encouraged to apply these ways of working to our own projects, worked under her guidance.

My book is inspired by my local landscape – the Norfolk Broads. I know that the places of our childhood stay with us, and are the types of landscape that, for the rest of our lives, give comfort and make us feel at home. I certainly feel that way about the broadland landscape – the wide flat horizon, expanses of water and reed bed. I tried to reflect this in my textile book.

I used pieces of old Ordnance Survey map, pages from a book of Norfolk wildlife and eco-dyed fabric (using locally sourced leaves). I added birch bark, some sections of old Norfolk reed that had given many years service as loft insulation in a cottage not far from where I live, and some blue tissue paper; reused packaging.

Using Cas’ methods I was able to bring all the elements together into book form. I have added hand stitching and removed sections using shapes that indicate waves on water.

Over the two days taken to make this book I became completely absorbed in the task. Cups of tea grew cold, bites of my sandwich taken between stitches. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and the enjoyment is heightened because I have created such a personal piece of work. This creative project was pure joy, from beginning to end.

the story of W

I know all sorts of amazing people, and each have their own story. This piece is inspired by one of them.

Life doesn’t always feel fair; some people are born into circumstances that can make things difficult for them, on many different levels. On this piece I wanted to express the ‘mess’ of tangled, entangling, restricting life circumstances. The darkness, restriction and fears. Yet within this mass of darkness shines the pearl of a shining individual.

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I designed a repeat pattern linocut for the background, which I printed over spray coloured calico. I neatly stitched over the central part of the design in black using satin stitch, and outlined areas alongside this in backstitch and cross hatching. I overlaid the whole piece with various fine mesh nets, and added threads to represent the tangles of the situation. I stitched a tiny seed pearl into the centre.

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